Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the occasion of 17 May – the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) – calls on citizens to refrain from hate speech and violence towards LGBTIQ+ individuals and urges competent institutions to adequately prosecute and sanction such acts.
We are witnessing a trend of regression in the field of human rights, including the questioning of those rights and freedoms that have, painstakingly, been achieved in the previous period. It is particularly concerning the prevalence of hate speech, attacks, and violence against LGBTIQ+ persons, as well as the increased number of femicide. This is significantly contributed to by the ongoing political crisis, in which human rights are at the bottom of the priority list for decision-makers, as well as the openly negative and irresponsible rhetoric of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), as an influential actor, towards gender equality and LGBTIQ+ individuals. The first one has indirectly contributed by not addressing human rights issues in Montenegro, while the latter has directly fueled hatred by organizing religious gathering moleban on the day before Montenegro Pride 2022.
CCE indicates that it is incomprehensible, from the standpoint of equality before the law, to exempt religious representatives from responsibility for hate speech. In this context, the CCE previously sent an Initiative to the State Prosecutor’s Office to issue instructions to prosecutors regarding cases causing national, racial, and religious hatred, to establish a practice of effective, consistent, and non-selective handling of these cases. We take this opportunity to call on the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the judiciary, to handle these criminal offenses with due professional care and to treat none in a privileged manner, hence to consistently prosecute all human rights violations.
The CCE also points out to the problem of youth radicalization and the pronounced social distance towards LGBTIQ+ persons among young people, as well as the uncritical perception of a religion becoming one of the most important aspects of their lives, as indicated by a public opinion survey conducted by CCE. While everyone has the right to personal opinions and beliefs, the problem arises when these beliefs shape into unacceptable actions, such as the attacks on the LGBTIQ+ Drop-In Center committed by young individuals, including minors.
This year’s theme for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia is “Together: United in Diversity,” and it is precisely the wealth of diversity that builds a culture of human rights. However, Montenegro is still far from achieving this level of realization of LGBTIQ+ rights.
The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the international classification of diseases on 17 May 1990, and since 2005, that day has been commemorated as the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
Željka Ćetković, Active Citizenship Programme Coordinator